Wildland firefighters burn 150 acres of Tyler State Park

Wildland firefighters burn 150 acres of Tyler State Park
People driving in and around Tyler may have noticed burrowing clouds of smoke Thursday.
State park wildlife firefighters say don't worry, it's under control.

Heavy clouds of smoke engulfed the 985-acre Tyler State Park, turning parts of the parks grounds pitch black.
And although it looks treacherous, the benefits are worth the dirty work.

"The heat is suppressing woody understory resprouts and suppressing them down to a lower level, so that grasses and wildflowers and things like that can grow underneath the forest," Wildland Fire Program Manager Jeff Sparks says.

As a team of wildland firefighters ignited the forest, what looks like a small patch of embers turned into a 150-acre blaze.
In most cases, Wildland Fire Program Manager Jeff Sparks says wind is a dangerous threat with fires, but in this case, the wind is a benefit.
"We need the wind to move the fire across the landscape and the wind will also move the smoke away from things like highways, houses, towns, things like that," Spark says.

Sparks says his team burns three times a year in this park, about 350 acres each time, and after just a week
s time, he says hes noticed a drastic increase in wildlife and vegetation.

"You can see areas where they have been frequently burned and those areas that were managed with fire actually have a higher wildlife diversity and higher populations than untreated areas," Sparks says.

The Tyler State Park has been open since the 1930's, meaning most of its pines are more than 80 years old, and Sparks says with the annual burns, new trees will be introduced.

Firefighters burned 100 acres of the park Wednesday. Thursday will be the last time they burn until next year.